Sony Cyber-shot WX150 Digital Camera Review$249.99
The WX150 earned great scores in our sharpness test—an overall average of 1691 MTF50s across all focal lengths and areas of the frame, maxing out at 2700 MTF50s in the center of the frame at the wide-angle setting. Part of the success is a quality lens, part of it is the high pixel count, but as is almost always the case with point-and-shoots, software is a big part of the score.
At regular viewing sizes, details look crisp. Up close, like the crops below, it's a bit fuzzier. The lens and sensor, solid as they are, have a tough time resolving all 18 megapixels of detail. But the WX150's processor is smart enough to recognize edges and enhance the sharpness. That lends a punchy, contrasty look to the shots, which makes them look "sharp" viewed on computer screens and medium-sized prints.
This couldn't work without decent optics, which the WX150 has, and it's very typical for long-zoom cameras. The enhancement is applied well here, without causing too much unintentional haloing (too-white areas along edges like the crops below, or text). It might be a problem for photographers who make huge prints on a regular basis, and pixel peepers won't like it. But we think that the WX150 basically deserves the score. More on how we test sharpness.
The WX150 includes SteadyShot optical image stabilization, but it can't be deactivated, so we couldn't run our comparative sharpness test. Anecdotally, the stabilization is effective enough to steady full-telephoto shots and indoor photos, though we ended up with a number of shaky low-light photos.